Months ago, I announced that it was time for me to dive into the process of seeking literary representation (an agent) for my WIP, a historical novel manuscript.
I was ready. However, my manuscript wasn’t…quite. (And you only get one chance to make a good impression–or any impression at all–on an agent.) So, revise revise revise, and I have come out the other side knowing that now is–really–the time.
I talked here before about the steps required to prepare for this journey. Step 1 is knowing what to “pack” for the publishing road ahead, with agent query letter as “passport.” Step 2 involves putting myself in an agent’s shoes. What might he/she want of me besides a manuscript? Step 3 will involve compiling a list of agent who might be a good fit (stay tuned…).
Today: I’m in query letter purgatory. It’s not hell, really. We writers write and we write about writing, and so to get to write about our own writing is kinda neat–if tasking, and requiring a good bit of objectivity. Some say the query letter is tougher to write than the novel (a bit of an exaggeration, but still valid): As in, boil down an 85,000-word story into a 150 word synopsis. Oh sure, no problem. It certainly can’t hurt to start with a fantastic first line (or “hook”).
And here’s another couple pieces that I’m using to spit-shine my agent query letter:
All you writers out there, ever written an agent query letter? How’d it go?
When I’m not working on my query letter, I’m reading novels I could use as comparisons to mine. Right now it’s Lilac Girls about the Ravensbruck women’s concentration camp, which isn’t a close enough fit, but I’m enjoying it.
What are you writing and reading this week? Like this publishing talk? There’s a category for that at the top of my site.
Just like there’s a language of, say, France or finance, there is a language of literary publishing.
In this language, I am no longer conversant (Daily Prompt); in fact I’m rather rusty.
Used to be, on a Friday night, I’d pore over the latest edition of the library copy of the Writers Market*, which was dog-eared from all the other aspiring-writer English majors who’d done the same before me. (I led a thrilling social life.) This door-stopper of a book was the bible of publishing. Study this tome, and one could at least sound like they were publishable.
Note that this language of literary publishing is a second language to the language of literary writing. Or should be.
Write. Write well. Write a ton. And only then worry about acquiring the language of literary publishing. That’s my advice. Why?
Because it’s like Greek (unless you’re Greek). Read more
Nope, you haven’t stumbled on a 90s music blog (but if you now have that old club song in your head, you’re welcome!)
Here at Rust Belt Girl, I promised a new thread this new year: a journey into the terrifying abyss that is the world of book publishing. That’s agent querying, novel synopses, novel submitting, etc.
How’s it going so far?
Um. Yeah, that.
Let’s just say, like so much of the Rust Belt at present, this Rust Belt Girl is on ice–at least as far as that project.
Shall I add another metaphor into the mix? Well, I got the cart before the horse (ie: the agent query letter, synopsis, etc.) before the manuscript itself. And, really, the horse is a little bit lame. Not so much that it has to be put down or even put out to pasture. (Yep, I’m just running with this metaphor.) But maybe re-shod, rested, exercised–certainly made stronger. Race horse strong.
A former writing teacher of mine, an author and editor whose feedback I trust wholeheartedly.
Thaw out? Get back on the horse? (Can I stop talking about ice and horses?)
Really though, I’m revising my novel manuscript (yet again) because I only get one chance with agents, and I don’t want to blow it. I’m really trying to “re-see” this story that’s been with me for years; these characters that I’ve known longer than I’ve known my own kids, which is a little crazy. It’s not an easy task to really re-envision an 86,000-word manuscript, and so I can’t rush it.
“Time is a great editor,” said my editor friend.
So, bear with me if this thread takes its time.
I mean, there’s an order to things–like seasons and horse-drawn things, right?
This site–link below–focuses on children’s literature, but a query letter needs to grab the agent by the collar, whether the book in question is for children or adults. I thought this post on the all-important first line of a query letter–the hook–was helpful.
I especially like thinking about a query letter in three major parts: “the hook, the book, the cook.”!
“On the fifth day of Christmas, my true self gave to me…one healthy kick in the pants.”
Is that right? Are we already on the fifth day? I’m still languishing in a sugar cookie stupor. Still digging out from leftover potatoes au gratin. Still trying to convince my family of the legitimacy of stale crackers and cheese rinds as a basic food group.
Sure, I will disconnect the sugar IV, menu plan, and get back to the proper care and feeding of my brood. I might even exercise. I will resolve! But it’ll probably be next month–which is next year.
In the meandering meantime, I will look back on the 2017 fun we’ve had here at Rust Belt Girl, you and me, thanks to inspiration from my native Rust Belt and its storytellers keeping it real.
Sing along to the tune of “The Twelve Days of Christmas” if you like.
In my first month of blogging, my Rust Belt gave to me
a blog borne from necessity (I didn’t say the cadence would be right)